- I’ll push out the “4 Be’s” to my 16 week students to see if there is any more success. I don’t want to give up too soon on the plan.
- For my 18 week students, I’ll make a point to call them Monday to check in. Since many don’t seem to be the emailing type, I’ll also try texting.
- As far as the collage goes, I’ll ask students about it and hold them accountable. Perhaps citing the image source is one step too many so that a “fun” assignment actually becomes “work.” Or maybe offering extra credit automatically made the activity “work.” Until I know these students better, I really can’t say. Hence the continuous effort to start dialogues.
Here’s how things went…
Communicating with my 18 week students
I reached out by email, the pager (IM), and phone on Monday and periodically throughout the week. Typically, I aim to send two emails during the week. On Mondays, I send out a “This Week in Language Arts” email with notes, reminders, and a link to the newsletter (more on newsletters below). Then mid-week, either Wednesday or Thursday, I send another email with reminders about assignments and the synchronous session.
I also like to follow up with a page, especially early in the semester. The pager is a handy tool for giving immediate feedback on an assignment or missing work. Some students really embrace the pager, like a few in my summer school session. They seemed to appreciate being able to ask quick questions within the system. So far, my fall semester students haven’t sent me any pages, so I’m wondering whether my students are checking the tool. To find out whether they are, I can use my teacher privileges in Brightspace and view the course as one of my students. Ordinarily, I don’t like doing this because it seems like an invasion of privacy, but I make a few exceptions when I need to know if they are receiving my messages. (By the way, most are checking their pages.)
Finally, the phone calls. I called my students Monday to check on them, and this was a pretty awkward experience. I’m not sure if we’re still in the building rapport phase, or if these students are not used to so much contact with their online teacher. (Unlike, say, my summer school students who came to online learning in order to recover a failing grade from their local school.) Basically, when I called, I reminded them of the collage project and asked how they were doing. For most students, I only left a message on their voice mail. The students with whom I spoke seemed a little shocked that I was calling. Perhaps they’re not used to a teacher asserting:
The Collage Project = Fail
So, no takers from my 18 week students here. Again, maybe it seemed like too much work. I’ll try again with my 16 week students. It’s a larger group, so it will give me a larger sample.
Last spring, I posted two or three news items a week, and in the summer, I tried to post something every day, since the session is condensed and students logged in every day.
For the Fall semester, I’ll take a more strategic approach to the News Items:
- Mondays: Tip of the Week and a link to the Newsletter
- Wednesdays or Thursdays: Mid-week reminders and a preview of the synchronous session.
- Fridays: Highlights from the course (what the students are doing well), discussion board follow-ups, and next steps.
For the newsletters, I’ll use the tactic I started in the summer: instead of designing each newsletter to match the different session’s schedules (like a Week 4 – 18 wk students, Week 4 – 16 week students), I’ll organize them by content. Here’s an example from last week:
The Synchronous Session: Guess Who (didn’t show)
After a small turnout last week, I tried advertising this week’s session earlier as well as planning a game: Guess Who? Who doesn’t like Guess Who? Check out the game and the set-up here.
Unfortunately, no students showed. Fortunately, I saved the layout, so I can return to the game later.
Welcoming my 16 Week Students
Sunday night, I left a housewarming party early to conduct a Welcome Session for my 16 week students. Only a few showed, but I was able to help a few with email issues and answer some questions about starting online courses. I figure anytime I’m helpful, it’s a win.
- The Welcome Session for my 16 week students. At least for some, the semester is starting off on the right foot.
- Discussion Board Posts:
- Start my “4 Bes” unit with my 16 week students.
- Encourage students to page each other.
- Start dialogues with my students about their learning goals.